Lucero: White Eagle Hall, Jersey City, NJ 21 February 2020

I need at least another day added to the week so that I have
time to write up all the reviews I need to write up.

The closest my boys were coming to NYC was going to be Jersey City – Ben (Nichols – vocals, electric and acoustic guitars) did his now three-peat solo gig in Garwood, NJ in January, which I had to miss this year. I have read where Brian (Venable – electric guitars) said they are going to gig more this year than last. I hope so. I miss that they used to come around here in the spring and the fall. And I have tickets for the Ryman in April, so I will be seeing them again this year.

I cannot remember the last time I was in Jersey City –
probably it was in the last century. The area near the club is totally
gentrified, where graffiti that used to be called an eyesore is now commissioned.
And the old hardware store is for rent and the old pharmacy still has the sign
up but under it is the sign for the dance club/bar that it was turned into.

White Eagle Hall is a former Polish hall with concerts upstairs and restaurants downstairs. They still have the stained-glass windows from when it was first built. The set up reminded me of a bigger Bowery Ballroom (800 capacity vs. 575 capacity) with the soundboard up in the balcony. Also, the balcony has seats all around. There are two bars in the back of the room.


I got a spot at the front of the stage where Brian stands. I had
two drinks before the show started and was enjoying the music over the sound
system and was wondering if this was Joe’s (Brown – soundperson) music.

John C (Stubblefield – electric bass) came out to introduce the
opener, Jade Jackson
and her band, Julian Ness (guitars), Tyler Miller (drums), and Devin Hollister
(electric bass). After a few songs, Jackson said her voice was hoarse because
of a cold but it sounded great to me. She was hoarse when she spoke but she
worked past it when she sang. Ness, with his hat and haircut, looked like a bit
like Jack White or maybe he was trying to look like the photo of David Bowie on
his t-shirt. I read later that he is Mike Ness’ (Social Distortion) son and he
is a good guitarist. From what I have read, Jackson grew up with Ness and Mike
Ness’ wife grew up with Jackson’s mother. Mike Ness went on to produce Jackson’s
second album. So, a bit of a family affair.

Since I was standing in front of the guitar amp, I was wondering
if I would be able to hear the other instruments, but I could hear everything
clearly. The band rocked out (they were all good) but I do not know if it is
enough to stand out from all the other bands that stride that punk country line.
Jackson’s looks probably helps (I am not saying that in a mean way – a musician’s
looks all too often play into their popularity). None of the songs stood out
for me enough that I remember them.


Sometime while they were setting up for Lucero, a couple moved up
to the stage on my left. The woman was already drunk and when the band played,
she yelled out the lyrics instead of singing along. There was one song she
wanted them to play and kept yelling that out also. There were moments when her
boyfriend/husband asked to be quiet or try to get her to move to the back but
she was having none of it. The funniest moment came when she yelled out to
Brian the song she wanted and Brian told her that she did not say, “please,”
and therefore he was not going to pass it along to Ben. She started begging and
saying please but Brian told her it was too late and to know that she had
learned her lesson. She finally did yell loud enough for Ben to hear and I saw
Brian whisper something to Ben and I was wondering if he was telling Ben to not
play the song. They did not play the song before the set was over and, unfortunately,
she was also yelling throughout the last song before the encore, which was when
I started getting angry but just tried to become zen and enjoy the music and
block her out. They left before the encore but then the band played her song
during the encore, so they were back for that.

This is my 11th year of Lucero and based on the numbers
I have written on my reviews at least the 30th time seeing them –
not including Ben’s solo shows. It is obvious that I love this band and their music.
They can lift me up when I have had a bad day and they can see inside my soul
articulate my deepest thoughts and feelings – both lyrically and musically.

There was more singing and playing than talking. Ben only hit his
head once and that was towards the end. When someone gave him an expensive shot,
he played their request. At one point, Ben was talking about something and
Brian started doing that thing where you hit your thumb against your fingers imitating
someone talking too long, which cracked me up.

During the quiet songs (Ben’s solo set) he said they were Sunday
night songs on a Friday night. And he thanked people for coming out for the
last 20 years. “Hello My Name is Izzy” keeps getting new verses as she
ages.  While tuning up for the encore,
people were yelling out requests. Then Ben said, “You won. I just wait until
someone yells out the song I want to play and that’s how I do requests.”

It was fun hearing “Hey Darlin’ Do You Gamble?” because it has
been a while since I have heard that live.

The rest of the band is Roy Berry (drums) and Rick Steff
(keyboards, accordion).  The band rocked
as usual and gave me chills. Being with Lucero is my happy place.

Set List

Among the Ghosts

No Roses No More

To My Dearest Wife

Nights Like These

Chain Link Fence

Sweet Little Thing

Downtown/On My Way Downtown


Hey Darlin’ Do You Gamble?

Cover Me

Texas & Tennessee

Everything Has Changed

Ben solo


The War




Tears Don’t Matter Much

For the Lonely Ones

The Last Song

Hello My Name is Izzy

My Best Girl


Mine Tonight (Ben solo)

Slow Dancing

Here at the Starlite


By Carene Lydia Lopez